Little Big Workshop (Switch) Review
♫ I got my first real warehouse, Bought it with inheritance
Profit ’til my workers bled, Was the workshop of ’69 ♫
You begin Little Big Workshop with 20,000 coins, three empty rooms and two newly minted employees. All you need now is some ambition, something to produce and the drive to make money. This is your chance to live out the capitalist dream – start a business, create a product, sell it to a buyer. Rinse, and, repeat.
As far as systems driven sims like this go, Little Big Workshop does a good job at easing you into the process. The tutorial is quite hand-holdy, ensuring you come to grips with the process of making goods immediately off the bat. You’re going to need some goods to make, some machines to create them with, and a cadre of minions to do the hard labour for you.
Every product you choose to produce is made up of various parts, each of which require different techniques (and thus different machines) to create. Take the humble four legged square wooden table. Breaking that down, you will need a wooden board and four legs. The board is made from 8x wood planks glued together, which themselves are cut into shape at a woodworking station from raw wood. Legs are similarly carved from raw materials – first cut into wood rods, before being carved via a jigsaw into legs.
Have your busy bees put it all together at an assembly station and voilà! A four legged square wooden table you shall possess.
Now, instruct your people to sweat over 9 more, sell them for a tidy sum, then pat yourself on the back for a job well done before investing into your next endeavour.
Everything you see in front of you takes form as a fantastical business drawn in micro scale. Pencils and ink litter the play area around your budding warehouse of industry, which is laid neatly out on graph paper. All of this reinforces an aura of innocence over the whole ordeal – this is just a little play set, a toy for children to learn the ways of the trade.
Your little workers run around dutifully performing tasks as required while there is work to be done. Well, at least until they get tired and fall to the floor in exhaustion. You didn’t take into account that they might need breaks during their 24 hour work day! Silly you. Best purchase a coffee machine and a table for them to gossip round. As long as they have that, they’ll cheerfully go about making you money without so much as a complaint.
Despite the cutesy characters, bulbous menus and simlish speech, there is a wealth of opportunity available at your fingertips. Build out your wildest fantasies as a curator of voodoo dolls; be like me and invest heavily in hoverboard creation. There is only one thing you must always keep at the forefront of your mind. There is only one way to “lose”, and only one path forward for you.
Keep. Making. That. Coin.
Initially I struggled with figuring out how it all should come together, honesty. Not because of any real fault of the game, mind you – all the information is right there, clear as day. Taking time to click on the menus, learn the flow charts and parse the wealth of data and statistics at your disposal is part and parcel with this type of game. Workflows begin to make more and more sense the more you poke and prod at the game.
It wasn’t until a transposed my daily existence of the last decade onto this game did the process really click. Working on and around a contract packaging facility has built up in me this seemingly useless way of thinking; of imagining in my mind the process a product goes through from entering our facility to leaving as a packaged good to be sold. The various materials coming from different suppliers; the machines on the production line packaging it all together; the product loading uniformly on to trucks to be sent to places of sale. This is the way of thinking Little Big Workshop is pulling from – imagining the process, from beginning to end, then executing.
Imagine for a second, if you will, that you were the one in charge at the company you work for. I’m talking big wig, head office. What changes would you make? What are the things you see, because of your position actually doing the work day to day, that you would improve upon or fix?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed things around your workplace that could be improved upon. You may have even tried pointing out those problems, maybe come up with solutions to fix them. You might see where issues can arise before they happen and work out ways to avoid them. You might also have bosses that might ignore you, because you don’t “fully understand the business implications”.
In that regard, Little Big Workshop provides an outlet for that frustration at upper management. Here, you have the chance to step into their shoes, optimize the company structure, and learn the “business implications” of your decisions. There is a satisfaction to striking to the core of the unheard labourer, giving you the power to find joy in the machinations of industry.
I guess that useless way of thinking did come in handy – at the very least, for playing a video game.
Of course there’s quite a caveat hanging over Little Big Workshop – the bugs. Some or even all may end up patched out over the coming months, but coming from being out on PC for nearly a year already, it is a little surprising to see. Things such as menus not scrolling up correctly can be worked around, but others really put a damper on any joy derived from the experience.
I lost track of the amount of times I’d be humming along, fiddling with my factory, figuring out what my next big production would look like, and then bam – crash to the Switch home screen. The game does autosave thankfully, but almost not often enough. Losing progress and having to recreate the steps to get to what I was trying to achieve was immediately tedious.
The final time the game crashed on me felt very similar to handing in my resignation. Like I’d gotten all I could from the experience, and while I knew there was still some work to do, I was well and truly done. Like it was time to move on.
♫ Standin’ on my loadin’ bay, I told myself it’d last forever
Oh, and when I count my coins, I screamed “hey I’m a capitalist”Those were the worst days of my life ♫
Little Big Workshop is like running a business. No, that’s not a metaphor. Build yourself up from a humble 5 figure sum to a table-trotting titan of industry. Just watch out for crashes along the way. Yes, that one was metaphorical. And literal.
+ Cute aesthetic, well animated
+ Plenty of variety in going about your business
+ Live out your capitalist dreams
- Buggy, multiple crashes
- Live out your capitalist dreams